The pap smear has been the means of detecting tons of early cervical cancer signs, but it is totally unnecessary. Early detection is imperative when it comes to having a chance against this terrible illness.
Newer information that has been found regarding the role of HPV (human papillomavirus) and the development of cervical cancer has shown us a more effective means of screening. Cervical cancer generally comes about when there is some sort of DNA change in the cells of the cervix. These tumors that form at this point have the ability to spread to the rest of the body depending on how things go.
Lots of things can increase your risks of developing cervical cancer, for example:
- Oral contraceptive use
- Having used or been born to a mother who used DES (a form of estrogen) between the years 1940-1971 (it is used to treat miscarriages.)
- Weakened immune system
- Sexual activity
- Giving birth several times
Now, as you may already be aware HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect the cervix. Some strains of HPV cause abnormal changes to occur in the DNA of your cells. This is something that turns into cancer. Australia is the first country to try and use a new screening test that has proven to be more effective than the pap smear when it comes to detecting the early signs of cervical cancer.
The technology being used will be completely different than that of a pap smear however the process will be the same, but rather than every two years, women will need to be checked every five years now. If a woman tests positive for HPV (one of the high-risk types) she will immediately be referred for further testing. One of the best things about this new screening process is that women are able to take a vaginal swab themselves and send it in to be tested.
Cervical cancer is something we can avoid having if we catch it in time. Don’t smoke, eat healthy foods, and reduce your exposure to HPV these things could save your life. If you notice any of the following symptoms please do hesitate to see a doctor and find out if you may be a victim of cervical cancer:
- Pain in your pelvis
- Pain in your lower back
- Pain in your legs
- Loss of bladder control
- Blood in stool
- Blood in urine
- Pain during sex
- Irregular bleeding
- Abnormal discharge
- Long heavy periods
How long will it be before the rest of the world begins testing for cervical cancer this way? Would you like to be able to wait five years in between testing rather than two? I am excited to see what new things are going to come from this. This new screening process may put the pap smear out of business not too long from now.